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Former UP CM Kalyan Singh leaves BJP

By Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow
Last updated on: January 21, 2009 10:12 IST
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Announcing his resignation from the primary membership of the party, Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) veteran and its national vice chief Kalyan Singh on Tuesday predicted doom for the party.

Kalyan also declared that his exit from the party would also puncture party veteran Lal Krishna Advani's dream of becoming the country's next prime minister.

He said, "The BJP would now not be able to take its tally beyond five in UP and not more than 116 at the national level."
And when a scribe sought his comment on the possibility of fulfillment of BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani's dream of becoming prime minister, Kalyan snapped sarcastically , "Well, that is be possible only if there was some way to become PM with least number of seats in Parliament."

Attributing his decision to quit on the BJP leadership , Kalyan did not mince words in accusing the party organization of "neglecting and humiliating" him ever since he returned to the party fold in 2004 after his earlier exit in 1999 for almost the same personal reasons as now.

In his resignation addressed to BJP president Raj Nath Singh , copies of which were distributed at the press conference , Kalyan has expressed "deep anguish" over what he termed as his "constant neglect by the party".

He added, "I have never compromised with my self-respect , therefore I have now decided to quit the party."

While thanking the BJP for awarding him the Lok Sabha ticket from Etah , he stated in the letter, "I am returning the ticket to you because all that I have received in the party is insult and apathy."

The charge was vehemently refuted by BJP spokesman Rajesh Pratap Rudy who told reporters in New Delhi ,"his allegation that he was not given his due is absolutely baseless and unacceptable."

He said , "The BJP has always been gracious and largehearted as far as Kalyan Singh is concerned ; on the other hand, Kalyan Singh has repeatedly embarrassed the party and its leaders." On the other hand, claiming that he was responsible for burturing the party and for taking it to a new high in the past, a disgruntled Kalyan alleged, "I do not think BJP has any room for leaders with a mass base  --  be it Uma Bharti in Madhya Pradesh, Lal Marandi in Jharkhand or Madan Lal Khurana in Delhi."

In an obvious bid to play the caste card, he also sought to charge the BJP leadership of being apathetic towards OBCs, while claiming, "I have always fought for social justice." As speculated over the past few days, the BJP veteran, who always proclaimed to have championed the party's Hindutva card, was now all set to join hands with Samajwadi party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav.

Interestingly, that would be Kalyan's second reckoning with Mulayam.

Earlier in 1999, when Kalyan floated his Rashtriya Kranti Party (RKP) , he did not bat an eyelid before going for an electoral alliance with SP, while also kept Kalyan in good humour by installing his son Rajvir Singh and blue-eyed protégé Kusum Rai as cabinet ministers.

"I had a meeting with Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh at my son Rajvir Singh's residence in New Delhi" , he admitted , but declined to divulge the details of their meeting. Even while categorically denying any intention of either forming his own party or joining any other political party, he candidly confessed his inclination to contest the coming Lok Sabha election.

"I will neither form any political party nor join any party, yet I will contest from Etah", he declared.

Asked to comment on Mulayam's remark that he would welcome Kalyan Singh's son Rajvir Singh into his party if the latter expressed his desire to switch sides from BJP, Kalyan shot back, "Well, I must thank Mulayam for that."

He however did not rule out the possibility of another alignment with Mulayam's SP . "Nothing could be ruled out in politics", he quipped in reply to a question. He described his own decision to return to the BJP fold in 2004 after his first exit in 1999 as "my biggest mistake in life."

He claimed, "It was only on the request of the party's top leaders that I decided to return to the party", but did not hesitate to add, "but later I realized that I continued to remain a target of neglect of all senior party leaders."

Kalyan however admitted that it was his demand for denial of a party ticket to senior BJP leader and former Bulandshahr MP Ashok Pradhan that accelerated his departure from the party.

"I was against the idea of Pradhan being awarded a party ticket simply because he had sabotaged not only my son Rajvir Singh's election from Dibai state assembly constituency but for that of number of other BJP nominees in the vicinity", he said.

"But no one in the party is prepared to lend me a ear ; so why should I stick along with such a party ; rather I would let it go to hell", he added angrily."

Claiming that he had left no stone unturned to build the party from a scratch , Kalyan sought to point out, "when I was made state president of the party in 1990 , BJP was down in the dumps in UP.

But like a committed soldier, I took the party to the villages thereby transforming its earlier profile of an essentially urban party. I traversed the vast expanse of UP, moving even on two-wheelers and on cycle-rickshaws." "But all that I got in return was apathy and neglect", he lamented.

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Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow